Disrupting Marketing with Influencers and Nick Szabo
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As COO of Swizzle Labs, Nick Szabo wants to help brands and YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat stars understand and build their audiences.
Although Swizzle started in Seoul, it is now a US-based entity and is developing Swizzle Labs here in St. Louis.
What is Swizzle Labs?
Swizzle is a tech company, we are one of the most connected new media companies in Korea. Swizzle Labs is our product, a program that can go way beyond vanity metrics to let you know what’s really going on online.
For example, if an influencer or brand wants to understand their image, Swizzle Labs can read what’s being said online and in social media and turn it into actionable intelligence. We build a knowledge-base that you can query to go as deep or as granular as you want.
Our potential customers now do this by hand and it takes them weeks. Swizzle Labs is automating it for them so they can be much more insightful and responsive and fast.
What’s an influencer?
Anyone who has impact on a particular group of people. It’s not about how many people follow them, it’s about how many of them do what they suggest. They can be brands and YouTubers, bloggers and social media gurus, or just regular people.
What does the influencer get from Swizzle Labs?
An influencer monetizes their audience via ads, sponsorship and events. We’re like analytics on steroids, so they love what we offer so they can build their audience and revenue.
Tell us about the picture you sent for use with this story—what’s interesting to you about it?
This was taken at one of our 회식 (Hwe-Shick) in Korea, which is basically the team getting together to eat and drink.
This one in particular was special because it was us celebrating winning the Arch Grant and starting our journey as an international company. I’m on the right, the fourth person back.
Where do you get inspiration?
The people around me. For example, Ian, who’s our CEO, told me that anytime he has to make a tough decision, he asks himself what choice he’d want to have in his autobiography, not which is easiest today.
He asked me which I’d want to say in my autobiography when my grandmother died when i was in Korea and could only come home for a day or two. Would I want my autobiography to say I wouldn’t come home for my grandmother’s funeral, or that it was worth it to me? It made the decision a no-brainer.
What prepared you for what you’re doing now?
I’ve done real estate, I’ve run a veterinary clinic and built sales and marketing teams. Everywhere I work, I’ve learned to learn from the people I meet.
That prepared me to learn from the people I met when I came to South Korea to hang out. I ran into Ian Lee, our CEO, who was the first person I ever met there that was proud of what he’d learned in his failures, which is not normal for Asian culture. He got a pitch opportunity in Silicon Valley and I went to help him and came back co-founder.
What’s something you just learned about that you’d like to spend more time exploring?
I got sucked into how people believe in conspiracies. The rapper BoB just got into a Twitter battle with Neil DeGrasse Tyson about flat earth theory, and it’s fascinating to see how conspiracies spread and are maintained.
What do you struggle with the most?
It used to be time management, but in the last few months my wife has had to stay in Korea for her job, so I have our 1-year-old with me, and I’m getting much better with time management by necessity (laughs).
I can get distracted with new ideas, and the team keeps me focused. Plus my Korean is not nearly as good as it should be.
What keeps you up at night?
Failing my team. I’m COO, so Ian and I are in charge of the company succeeding. We’re raising a round right now, for example.
We could raise all our money in Korea, but I have the opportunity to help connect Korea and St. Louis. I have to help raise a round to pay the team, and although I respect that they could succeed with someone else if Swizzle didn’t, failing them would devastate me.
Who’s a person in your past who has helped you become who you are? What did they do?
My mother, whom I recently lost. She gave me my entrepreneurial spirit.
She made money in real estate and did things like send me The Robb Report in college to give me ambition and things to aspire to.
Who are your favorite artists or authors?
My favorite band RDGLDGRN does a mix of Reggae, Rap, and Rock. I also do parkour, and there’s a lot of awesome parkour athletes that are fun to watch.
Omar Kaku is one of my favorites and a friend. He was just here in St. Louis.
How can people follow you (twitter, blog, events, etc.)?